It’s beginning to feel like winter and we’re ready to embrace this season’s comfort foods. There’s nothing as quintessentially winter as warm, soothing soup, like time-tested chicken noodle, minestrone, and miso soup. And, of course, there’s newcomers and ethnic creations, and a million different ways to make the classics unique. This winter, New York has more than enough soups to satisfy our warm, liquid cravings. Tortilleria Nixtamal in Queens is serving bowls of hangover medicine called pozole, Ippudo has pork belly-filled ramen and there’s even a sweet pumpkin coconut concoction at MexiQ in Astoria. We definitely won’t get cold and hungry with this rich selection in the area.
Modern Ramen, Ippudo
Address: 65 Fourth Ave., nr. 10th Street
Phone: (212) 388-0088
In Japan, Ippudo is like Applebee’s, as there seems to be one in every town. But in New York, this Japanese brasserie is a rare gem, as it has some of the most innovative ramen dishes in the city. Its dinner menu offers six different types of ramen bowls with seven different topping combinations. But we usually opt for the Akamaru Modern. This has a traditional pork-based broth, but is amped up with pork belly, garlic oil and a salty, soy-based sauce. And of course, the noodles are al dente and nicely springy.
Pozole, Tortilleria Nixtamal
Address: 104-05 47th Ave., nr. 104th Street (Queens)
We can’t get enough of the tamales and fish tacos at this Corona, Queens favorite, but our go-to order in the winter is the wonderful pozole. It’s made rich with pork and chilies, but gets most of its flavor from hominy – partially cooked corn that’s treated with lime. At Tortilleria Nixtamal, you can snag a whole bowl of flavorful pozole for $6, or get it with a tamale and soda for just a $1 more. This combo is known as the “Recovery Special.” We know from experience that this hearty meal will cure whatever ails you.
Pho, Pho Bang
Address: 157 Mott St., btwn. Broome and Grand Sts.
When it comes to Asian cuisines, New York City has it all. But great Vietnamese food is a lot harder to find in the five boroughs than is Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Sure, there’s always a Michael Bao restaurant, but when we want something quick and cheap, we trek down to Pho Bang on Mott Street. This hole-in-the-wall take-out spot has arguably the greatest Vietnamese beef and noodle soup in Manhattan. The broth is always more beefy than salty, thanks to the mound of sliced brisket, tendon and round they throw in. Aside from the array of cow parts, our favorite thing about pho is that we can customize to our liking. A dash of Siracha for heat, some hoisin for smoke and fresh basil for fragrance.
Pumpkin Coconut Soup, MexiQ
Address: 37–11 30th Ave., nr. 38th Street (Queens)
Fatty Cue already on the scene, barbecue fusion is all the rage
nowadays. And now in Astria, restaurateurs Dimitri Paloumbis and Dino
Philippou are putting a Mexican spin on the classic ribs, wings and
brisket. But this winter, nothing warms us up at MexiQ better than a
bowl of pumpkin coconut soup. This creamy concoction is almost like a
dessert soup, but has just enough herbs to make it fit for an appetizer.
Lentil Soup, Bereket Turkish Kebab House
Address: 187 Houston St., nr. Orchard Street
The doner kebabs and hummus are the main draw at this Lower East Side 24-hour eatery, but we always make sure to grab a bowl of lentil soup too. It really hits the spot, especially with its notes of cumin and garlic. Some lentil soup recipes call for meat stock, but the Kebab House’s version is strictly vegetarian. But trust us, it’s definitely not skimping on the flavor.
Soup Dumplings, Joe’s Shanghai
Address: 136-21 37th Ave. (Queens)
They may not be soup in the traditional sense, but the soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai are just too good to leave off our list. If you’ve never had soup dumplings – or xiaolongbao in Chinese – you’ll probably marvel at how they get the piping hot broth, pork and diced veggies in such a tiny bun package. But the method isn’t magic; the cooks merely cook soup, cool it until its gelatinous and finally dollop it into the dumpling skin. They come to the table freshly steamed in a bamboo basket. Just remember to slurp some soup slowly before popping the whole thing into you’re mouth so that you don’t get burnt.
New York is home to three Joe’s Shanghai locations, but the best soup dumplings are found at the original Joe’s in Flushing, Queens. Perhaps that’s because they have been making them the longest – 15 years.
Matzo Ball Soup, Second Avenue Deli
Address: 172 E. 33rd St., btwn. Lexington and Third Aves.
Sure, it’s not the original location on second avenue, but the food at the two-year-old Second Avenue Deli in Murray Hill is as classic as ever. When the weather gets cold, nothing can keep us away from the matzo ball soup. It’s perfect: plump and tender matzo balls swimming in a rich chicken broth. This is Jewish soul food at its best.
Tuscan Peasant Soup, E.A.T.
Address: 1064 Madison Ave., btwn. 80th and 81st Sts.
Phone: (212) 628-1625
Just like his parents’ landmark Upper West Side specialties store, Eli Zabar’s 37-year-old E.A.T. café does simple comfort food just right. Between the chicken salad, grilled cheese and smoked salmon, it’s hard for us to choose a sandwich to order. But when it comes to soup, we always go straight for the Tuscan peasant soup. It’s essentially tomato soup, but so much better than anything in a Campbell’s can because it is topped with crusty Italian bread and parmesan cheese.
Oxtail Vegetable Soup, Shopsin’s
Address: 120 Essex St. nr. Delancey Street (in Essex Street Market)
Kenny Shopsin’s menu has a seemingly endless amount of options to choose from. It can be overwhelming, but don’t overlook the oxtail vegetable soup. The braised meat is succulent, and the veggies are cooked through while still retaining some crunch. Ducking into the Essex Street Market for a bowl of this stuff is a great way to escape the brisk weather.